I will be voting no on both proposed amendments to the Rockport Town Charter (Articles 9 and 10 on the ballot).

Article 9 proposes to completely replace the section of the Charter regarding the appointment of a town manager. This proposal essentially removes the requirement for the Select Board to establish a search committee composed of citizens to work with the board during the process by changing the wording from “shall” to “may.” Having served on the Select Board for seven years and having been involved with the selection of two town managers, I found that the process as it is currently set out in the charter worked very well. Some may argue that it is a bit cumbersome, and I would not totally disagree with that, but the selection of a town manager is one of the most consequential decisions for the town, so having a comprehensive process is not a bad idea.

For both town manager searches that I was involved with, there was no shortage of volunteers to serve on the search committees. This allowed the board to select committees that were diverse and represented all areas of the town. In both cases, the committees worked hard, and provided excellent input to the Select Board, who, in the end, have the responsibility to make the final selection. I believe that having a search committee is an excellent way to more fully involve the citizens of the town in the selection of their town manager. Certainly, some changes to the process could be considered, and some of these are addressed in the proposal. But removing the requirement of the citizen search committee is unwise in my opinion, and this is why I will vote no on this article.

Article 10 proposes to require write-in candidates to file their intention to serve prior to the election. While this sounds like a reasonable proposal at first glance, the idea that write-in votes for someone who has not filed an intention in advance would be “null and void” is a deal-breaker for me. It is not infrequent in Rockport for some positions to have no candidates on the ballot. In these cases, sometimes someone will agree to serve at the last minute, maybe even on election day itself. But this proposal might not allow these people to serve, even if they received more votes than anyone else. Also, think about a situation where a last-minute groundswell for a write-in candidate in a contested election occurs. If this candidate receives more votes than anyone else on the ballot, under this proposal the candidate who got the most votes may not be declared the winner. The bottom line for me is that this proposal has the potential to disenfranchise voters, and I cannot support it.

I urge all Rockport residents to read these two articles carefully before casting their ballots.

Ken McKinley
Rockport